Sunday, March 29, 2020

carving spoons from a recently limbed street tree

while on my morning jog today, i found this limbed tree near my house with a few promising branches. i don't know what the species is, but the limbs looked pretty fresh. so after returning home from the run, i rolled out on my bicycle with my ryoba saw to cut a few useful sections for spoon carving. i wish i snapped a shot of the tree and it's leaves. it's actually a pretty nice carving wood in green.

My first spoon from the wood was not so well planned, as it had the pith running through the handle. good practice tho.

this other spoon i made today originates from a crook in one of the branches where there was a bifurcation off the leader branch. the fibers all run collinear with the crank in the spoon. it's something i have not had a lot of experience with, carving directly from the tree, but for me i receive good feedback from the grain in the wood to "tell" my knife where to go. this also means you can't just apply a "spoon template" to the wood and force it to obey the lines. you have to flow with it and let the spoon emerge from the wood. believe me: hours can pass in the blink of an eye while engaged in this work.
got a few cuts on my thumbs over the past few weeks, so today i'm applying some athletic tape to just add a little extra protection. it's helpful.
the new kuska knife made short work of this green wood. with both edges of the hook being sharp, it has numerous hand positioning and force direction possibilities. i'm still learning this tool, but so far, very happy to have it in my kit
The rest of the photos are just showing the roughing out of these pieces.

a soup ladle in poplar

had a few thick billets of poplar from my bed project. i thought, being poplar, that it'd be super easy to carve, but it was much harder than what i expected. possibly due to being so dry?
i used a 3/8" forstner bit with my drill to hog out most of the bowl. here, i'm using a long-handled hook knife (used with two hands).
From here on, it's small refinements getting this spoon to its final shape.
Marc, my neighbor, brought a spoon he carved from apricot wood decades a few decades ago when he was in NM.

Friday, March 27, 2020

an attempt at a fork to go with the spoon

these are eatin' size utensils. my colleague steve said i should branch into forks so here it goes. the tines are pretty delicate, but they are wider in profile than they are in plan view. maybe they will last. better keep that steak below medium-rare

Monday, March 23, 2020

a fork to stand up to the spoon

I decided to make a fork in a similar shape to the spatula from earlier, and then this might become utencils for serving vegetables/salads.

question of the afternoon: 3 or 4 fingers?

i went with 4, but briefly ended up with 3

a bit of cleaving, and i've established where this thing is going
concluded. i don't like the shape of the tines. their length is also kinda precarious. It would be much more sturdy if they were flowing with the grain along a crook. just gotta see how it goes.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Sapele Kitchen Utencils

after carving a few pieces of hard maple from the shop, I wanted something a little less severe, but not as soft as poplar. There were a few off cuts of sapele hanging around. While it might seem hard, it actually carves nicely. not nearly as soft as the poplar I was carving yesterday, but it still works easily with hand tools. The grain can be a bit squirrelly, reversing against your knife. It takes a bit of feel to know when to stop and cut from the other direction.

Over the week, as we all have dealt with our new restrictions, I've noticed more people outside walking, sometimes saying "hi" or just a hand wave. Sometimes we talk. Yesterday, a pair strolled by, a parent/guardian/aunt/grandma and a 10 year old on a skateboard. The kid paused and watched from the curb at me carving on the porch. We said "hi" and they continued on. Today they were passing on the other side of the street, same deal with the skateboarder, and noticed me on the porch. I waved them over.

It's awkward because normally one would want to at least be able to hold the spoon I was carving, just to get a feel. Or even, take a hold of the sloyd knives, or chisels. But it's not OK these days and so they step onto the porch, I welcome them and we keep some distance. The child's name is "Gus" and his guardian's name is "Dia" and we spend some time talking about what I'm doing with all this spoon work, and it's quite clear that Gus is very compelled by the obscure tools and how they could form a useful object from all the shavings on the deck. His favorite class in school right now is dance (Hip Hop). I let them know that they are welcome to stop by for some spoon carving introductions once "all this blows over".

I kinda like the look of my porch these days.

paring the shallow taper of the work's underside goes pretty easily just with a 3/4" chisel
when narrowing down stock, making small cross-grain stop cuts ease the hewing process. The ryoba saw i'm using has the rip teeth going cross grain. This is the vanity of taking photos of my work instead of actually doing the work (-:
And now a progression of refinements. The sapele is actually a really nice wood for spoon carving. I have NO idea if it can impose any flavor on what I'm cooking with. hopefully not.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Another afternoon on the front porch

I got this offcut of poplar ("Piedmont Poplar?") from Lawrence Gandsey while out on a jog a while ago. His workshop sits right behind Lanesplitter's pizza in Oakland. I'd catch glimpses into this shop every time I'd pass by. There is gigantic silhouette from an old band saw in the window and other machines. The windows had custom grilles welded up to look like vines. Anyway, while on that jog, I saw the roll-up door open and there was activity inside. Mr. Gandsey was actually working on what appeared to be a large slab table, and noticed me stopped in my tracks looking inside with a cowed expression. He invited me in and after introductions asked what kind of wood working I did. At the time I was making spoons of various sorts and led with that. So he set aside a box of offcuts a few days later. All sorts of local species, and more. Hard maple, black walnut, Australian blood wood...all for spoon carving, etc.

Today, I pulled one of my saw horses out onto the front porch after working from home, and began a spoochula out of the poplar. All non-essential gatherings of people have been shut down by the state, with most businesses closed. Personal distancing rules are in effect (6' by law). Lots of people were outside, walking the neighborhood, passing by while i was carving. They were walking dogs. walking restless kids. Or just walking themselves, lost in thought, getting out of the house for a bit. My neighbor Ari 2 doors down, we hardly talk, but this evening she was out for a stroll and we connected. She's a sign language interpreter, and all her work has been cancelled. Another neighbor, Dane, was walking his pit-bull and chihuahua. He's a general contractor with a few jobs in progress, but they've been paused indefinitely.

Joe D. wrote me about an earlier post showing a way to hold work in your lap using a loop of rope threaded into a plank that you support on your lap while seated. your feet keep tension on the line to provide a surprising amount of holding capability. it's also much less fatiguing this way.

This is where I left off for the day. Quite long of handle, but I kinda like the extra length for the way it feels.
Got a little too thin at one section. The wood is so soft, it's almost like balsa. Not sure how long I'll be able to use it for cooking, but this wood is great for carving without wearing myself out. Will have to look for more of this for just experimenting with.
Works fine on the frying pan tho
it's taller than the others a bit.
Paulo and Tux mid morning taking rest on the deck.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

17 March 2020

My last name is Tracy. I keep that in mind.
2 more eating utensils. first attempt at making forks. i think it's better to orient the grain to be quarter-sawn
With contact isolation enforced, I sent this photo to a couple friends via SMS text and "K" says it was green, so that's how I knew i was making a green 4 leaf clover.